Disability discrimination is treating people unfairly because of their disability.

What is a disability?

A disability can be a physical disability such as an illness, a deformity or the total or partial loss of a body part or function. It can also be an intellectual disability or a learning disability.

Disability also includes:

  • mental illness, such as an illness that affects thought processes, perceptions of reality, emotions or judgement, or that leads to disturbed behaviour
  • a genetic predisposition to develop a particular illness
  • the state of having or carrying an infection, whether or not it is symptomatic.

A disability can be temporary (such as an illness) or permanent. It can also be a disability that a person had in the past or may develop in the future.


Disability discrimination includes treatment which appears to be equal but is unfair on certain people because of their disability. For this treatment to be unlawful it must also be unreasonable.

It also includes unfair treatment by an employer, if they refuse to make accommodations (i.e. changes to the workplace or work methods) available so a person living with disability can do the job. For this treatment to be unlawful it must be unreasonable for the employer to refuse to make the accommodations.

South Australian law also covers access to premises for people living with disability and discrimination of people living with disability by superannuation providers.

View useful resources for employers.